The NBA was founded on June 6, 1946, in New York City as the Basketball Association of America (BAA) by Walter A. Brown, the owner of the Boston Celtics. The league started with 11 teams, which included franchises such as the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia Warriors, and New York Knicks. The BAA's first game was played on November 1, 1946, between the Toronto Huskies and the New York Knickerbockers.
In the early years, the BAA faced several challenges, including financial difficulties, lack of fan interest, and competition from rival leagues. However, the league managed to survive and even thrive thanks to the emergence of several star players, such as George Mikan, who led the Minneapolis Lakers to five championships in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
In 1949, the BAA merged with the National Basketball League (NBL) to form the NBA. The newly formed NBA initially had 17 teams, with Minneapolis Lakers winning the first NBA championship in 1950. The 1950s saw the emergence of several legendary players, including Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, and Wilt Chamberlain, who helped their teams win multiple championships.
The 1960s were dominated by the Boston Celtics, who won a record eight consecutive championships from 1959 to 1966, thanks in large part to the leadership of Bill Russell. The 1960s also saw the entry of the first African American players in the NBA, such as Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, who helped to break down racial barriers in professional basketball.
In the 1970s, the NBA saw the rise of the Los Angeles Lakers and the emergence of several iconic players, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving, also known as Dr. J. The league also expanded in this decade, adding teams such as the Portland Trail Blazers and the New Orleans Jazz.
In the 1980s, the NBA experienced a surge in popularity, largely due to the emergence of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, who helped to create a fierce rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. This decade also saw the creation of the three-point shot and the addition of new teams, such as the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Hornets.
The 1990s were dominated by Michael Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six championships in eight years. This decade also saw the addition of new teams, such as the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies. The league also expanded globally, with the establishment of the NBA International Division, which aimed to promote basketball around the world.
In the 2000s, the NBA saw the emergence of several new stars, including Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, and LeBron James. This decade also saw the introduction of a dress code for players and the relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City. The league continued to expand globally, with the establishment of NBA China, which has become one of the league's largest and most lucrative markets.
Today, the NBA is one of the most popular and lucrative sports leagues in the world, with 30 teams and a global fan base.